Marching to the Beat of My Own Drummer
My Journey in Becoming a Music Therapist
Perhaps like many of my generation, my life journey has not been linear. I didn’t just one day know what I wanted to do when I became an “adult.” The one thing I knew was that I didn’t fit into any particular kind of box regarding my lifestyle and worldview.
However, my journey into music therapy began with my voice and the loss of it. Prior to studying music therapy and counseling, I studied vocal performance at Viterbo University. While I loved the act of singing, I found that I was more interested in the emotional, psychological, and physiological processes involved with singing and performing.
After graduating from Viterbo, I still wasn’t fully clear on what I wanted to do. My voice teacher had given me a brochure about the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology Music Therapy program at Naropa University. I was definitely intrigued, but what I really wanted to do was live and work overseas.
Eventually, I ended up in Daegu, South Korea, where I taught English to school-age children. I also sang with a choir during my time there. The experience really showed me the universal power of music, and it was fun.
Until it wasn’t.
Some sort of respiratory ailment caused me to lose my singing voice. This sent me into a bit of an existential tailspin. None of the doctors I went to could figure out what was going on.
Being a metaphysically-oriented person, I recognized that something was missing from my life. I was helping people by teaching, but I knew that I wanted to do more.
It was then that I remembered the brochure from Naropa that my voice teacher had given me a few years ago. Now seemed like the right time to come back to the States and to determine a clearer career path for me. It’s a decision I have never regretted.
Returning to the West
Since I couldn’t physically audition for the program in person, I created an audition tape. (Why, yes, it WAS a VHS tape.) I used the video to provide a snapshot of my life. It must have worked because on my last day of teaching, I received word that I had been accepted into the program.
At Naropa, I was completely amazed to learn just how comprehensive of a profession music therapy is. Where I thought that it was something that just applied to mental health, I experienced otherwise. During my time at Naropa, I learned how to work with older adults in the late stages of Alzheimer’s and with children on the autism spectrum.
The Journey Continues
Since graduating in 2007, my professional path has been meandering as a music therapist and counselor. I worked for a few years in early childhood special education, as well as in hospice before entering into business for myself. These experiences, coupled with my experiences during my internship and my initial urge to become a music therapist, inspire the mission of my business, SoundWell Music Therapy.
Through SoundWell Music Therapy, I work with children, teens, adults, and older adults. By using music and authentic presence, I invite people to experience growth and health. Seeing others blossom into more of their own authentic selves is a joy to me.
Being a business owner also allows me to continue indulging in my wanderlust. I love opportunities to share with, and learn from, colleagues abroad. This sometimes involves actual travel, while other times it doesn’t.
One way I’m able to do this without travel is through the Online Conference for Music Therapy. I love serving as part of the OCMT because it helps promote music therapy research and practice abroad. It’s an honor to me to be a part of this mission.